For a few years now, like many creatives, I have chosen a word for the year—a touchstone that helps me remember how I want to be and where I want to place my attention. In past years, I have picked words like “joy” and “open”. At the start of 2020, when I was recovering from a substantial surgery to remove ovarian cysts and what turned out to be cancer, the words I lived by were “tenderness” and “kindness”. I had not planned to pick a word for 2021, but a few days ago, one picked me.
I have long struggled with perfectionism and have come to realize what a large obstacle it has been to my being fully present in the world. I have written less (as evidenced by the lack of posts on this blog). I have shared less. I have made less art. I have been less of myself, because I was afraid of being judged and found lacking. And of course, I will be judged, and some will find me lacking. That’s not the point. The point is that the expression of life that comes through me—through each of us—is unique and as Martha Graham put it “If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.”
Since perfecting my output has been the biggest block to sharing, I have decided to make the lusciously flawed nonword “imperfect-ing” my guide this year. There is a practice in Persian rug making in which an error is always included in the final masterpiece. This is to acknowledge that only Allah is capable of perfection. I am not talking about this kind of intentional imperfect-ing. I mean acknowledging the bounds of my energy, time, and abilities, not wishing them different, and, from within those strictures, making something with great love and dedication—and then sharing it, so that if it’s meant to, it can touch someone else in just the right way, in just the right time.
There’s so much more to say about this, and about my hopes and plans for this blog and this year, about how I’ve been and what I’ve been learning . . . but this is all there is right now . . . And, with a little luck, and a lot of imperfect-ing, there will be more here soon.
Until then, what are you working on? What words are guiding you?